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Off the Hamster-Wheel: Young People Are ‘Slow Living’ to Counter Hustle Culture

'Slow living' and occupying yourself with hobbies like knitting, reading and pottery can help beat burnout.

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Fit
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Ever fantasised about calling it quits and moving to the mountains? Ever wanted to give up the '9 to 5 life' in favour of spending your time doing languid activities like gardening or pottery or running a quaint little cafe, or perhaps a bookstore?

Instead of flipping your whole life over to get some peace of mind away from the bustle of modern life, you could take a page out of the book of famous celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Deepika Padukone who are ditching the fast-paced hustle culture for 'slow living'.

At the heart of it, slow living involves hitting pause on the rut of fast-paced living to take a breath and recalibrate your life.

Often, it involves taking the time to do a relaxing activity like gardening and crocheting at a slower pace, more mindfully, to improve mental health.

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It's by no means a new concept – just ask your grandparents who likely practice slow living without realising it.

While slow living was thought to be the domain of retired folks, younger people are expected to 'hustle'.

However, thanks to some celebrities, the concept of slow living is now trending among younger people (even non-celebs) who are feeling burnt out by their fast-paced lives.

Hollywood stars Leonardo Di Caprio and Brad Pitt have in the past talked about their love for sculpturing. Closer home, actors like Deepika Padukone and Kajol have used their social media platforms to share their love for knitting and crocheting as an 'unwinding hobby'.

How Do Slow Hobbies Help?

The idea is to do activities that you don't have to ace, or get right, to simply put you at ease – it can be any hobby you enjoy.

Speaking to FIT, Mumbai-based art therapist, Shirin Chimthanawala says, "mindfully working with your hands do have cognitive and emotional benefits. It is stimulating to the brain."

"When one does hands on tasks like zentangles, mandala drawing, or crocheting, There is a sense of repetition which builds familiarity and pattern which helps create a calming affect."
Shirin Chimthanawala, Art Therapist

"My friend gifted me a guided crochet set. Initially I wasn't interested in doing it at all. It sounded boring to me," says Aarti, a 26-year-old consultant from Bangalore. "But when I started doing it, I really enjoyed it. I do it whenever I get free time and it really helps me with anxiety."

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Aarti goes on to say that her work days are fast-paced and packed with work, but her 'slow hobby' helps her rest and recoup.

"Work is always very stressful, but being able to switch everything off and sit with my crochet kit helps me feel centred and unwind better than when I would just spend my nights scrolling through my phone."
Aarti, 26

"To me, it means taking some time out of my day to mindfully enjoy the simpler moments in life," says Priyasha, a 28-year-old doctor who does guided painting in her free time.

She adds,

"I find it really relaxing. I put on some soft music, turn off my notifications and focus completely on it for about half an hour. It feels like meditation."

There is also some scientific evidence to suggest that relaxing hobbies can help improve your mental health.

A large study published in 2016 found a link between visual art making and lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone). Other similar studies have found that engaging in leisure activities of your own choosing was linked with lower heart rate, less stress and better sleep pattern.

Explaining it further, Chimthanawala says, "When one is feeling overstimulated with everything that's happening around them, these activities can help you feel centred or grounded."

Moreover, she says, "completing an activity is satisfying and leaves you with a feeling of accomplishment. This gives you pleasure, releasing feel-good hormones like dopamine. You also feel better about yourself."

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Burnout, Hustle Culture and Mending Your Mental Health

According mental health experts, overworking is one of the leading causes of stress and exhaustion in young people. Work stress can further lead to other health issues.

While speaking to FIT for a previous article, Dr Raj Kumar Srivastava, Senior Consultant & Head Department of Mental Health & Behavior Sciences, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Patparganj, New Delhi, had said, "Overworking can lead to many problems like depression, anxiety, heart problems, sleep disorder, interpersonal disputes, and so on. Cardiac problems and stress are strongly correlated in recent times to the point of stress being considered the most common factor for fatal heart attacks."

These are all signs of burnout. And, circling back to the beginning, if you're daydreaming about quitting your job and starting over in the mountains, you're likely going through burnout.

However, Speaking to FIT, Dr Kamna Chhibber says the impact of burnout on your mental and physical health can run deep and mending yourself after burnout can be a challenging process.

While having a 'slow hobby' to ground you can be just the thing you need to start healing from it, you might also be in need of professional help or counselling.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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